Rugby: Toulon boss admits he may have been too harsh in criticism of All Black Julian Savea

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
Rugby,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 15 May 2019, 9:45AM
Julian Savea in action for Toulon. (Photo / Photosport)
Julian Savea in action for Toulon. (Photo / Photosport)

Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal has admitted he may have been 'too harsh' in his criticism of former All Blacks winger Julian Savea after saying he was "not welcome" at the French rugby club.

Boudjellal made some explosive comments about Savea in February following the side's 19-10 Top 14 defeat to Agen.

"I'm going to ask for a DNA test. They must have swapped him on the plane [when he joined from the Hurricanes last year]. If I were him I would apologise and go back to my home country," Mourad Boudjellal told French radio RMC.

"I've told him that he was free to go and wasn't welcome at Toulon any more," he added.

Boudjellal has a history making controversial statements. In 2017 he praised Ali Williams' negotiation skills after he was caught buying cocaine in Paris while last year he defended Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud's use of a homophobic slur in a match because it had 'entered common language'.

Savea, who scored 46 tries in 54 tests for the All Blacks, signed a four-year deal with New Zealand Rugby in May 2015 that made him one of the highest paid players in New Zealand history, earning an estimated $800,000 a year.

However he was released from that deal last year following the Super Rugby season after agreeing a two-year deal with Toulon.

Boudjellal has now back-tracked on his criticism.

"At one point, it was him or me! Quit paying someone as much … especially at that rate. I may have been too harsh with him, but I am someone excessive and whole. I never shower with lukewarm water," Boudjellal told Midi Olympique.

Toulon currently sit 10th in the Top 14 standings. Savea has scored three tries in 22 games.

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